While DC Public Schools is proud to be the nation’s fastest-improving urban school district, systemic inequities persist, and DCPS leaders have sought a more equitable and inclusive approach to school improvement. Starting in Anacostia and Ballou High Schools, DCPS launched Redesign as an innovative school transformation strategy, one driven by students, staff, families, alumni, and other stakeholders within these school communities. With community involvement so crucial to the Redesign process, DCPS turned to us to help explain the initiative, as well as highlight its value by showing Anacostia's and Ballou’s redesigns in action.
LAI Video partnered with DC Public Schools on a three-part series about its School Redesign Process, the District’s community-driven approach to school improvement. Consisting of a promotional video and two school spotlights, the series highlights the people behind the process to reveal how school communities are reimagining educational opportunities to be fit for all students and families.
Flipping the Script
As Account Rep, Melinda devised a plan for presenting how Redesign would lift the voices of school communities to improve outcomes for all students. Filming among a variety of school backdrops, Jordan recorded six students as they delivered scripted remarks, using eye-level camera angles that emphasize a process conducted by and for those it will impact the most. Anthony’s playful animation further reinforces a process informed by students’ perspectives and experiences. As the high schoolers debunk misconceptions and describe Redesign’s initial successes, their anthem flips the narrative about what is possible within their schools and highlights the power of community involvement to reimagine the future.
While promoting the Redesign initiative was critical, so too was making its impact tangible. Prior to filming, Melinda, Alexandria, and Favata worked closely with DCPS staff to understand how the Redesigns were centering the Anacostia and Ballou communities’ needs, interests, and assets. From this discussion, Alexandria developed a production plan spanning several months, allowing our team to capture the variety of reimagined programming and learning experiences that exemplify community-driven school improvement.
At Anacostia High School, our cinematographers captured dynamic b-roll of the school’s partnership with the Anacostia River Watershed, elevating the school’s access to a wealth of learning opportunities that empower students to become change agents in their communities. At Ballou, our crew recorded powerful visuals of the school’s facilities and a plethora of student clubs and activities, emphasizing a profound educational philosophy that centers connection, community, and school culture. And at both campuses, our crew interviewed the educators, parents, and students experiencing Redesign’s impact first-hand. While Anacostia's and Ballou’s spotlight videos highlight the value of DCPS’ school transformation strategy, they double as a rebranding tool, presenting institutions that offer countless opportunities to local families.
A Redesign with a Twist
In keeping with an ethos of reimagining what’s possible, our team worked closely with DCPS to adjust our vision for Anacostia’s spotlight when unplanned circumstances arose: a global pandemic. With our plans to further explore students’ role in revitalizing the Anacostia Watershed halted, we pivoted to capture the school’s commitment to preparing students for successful virtual learning. From powerful footage of staff equipping students with crucial tools and technologies to moving soundbites that describe a tight-knit, family environment, we highlighted the school’s pandemic response to reaffirm DCPS’ belief that working closely with the community is essential for meeting students’ needs – and of preparing them for an ever-changing world.
Melinda is a senior account director who is passionate about storytelling and connecting the dots. She's also BFFs with Rachael Ray. Jealous?
Under his calm exterior, Anthony is simmering with big ideas and a bottomless reserve of the latest industry trends.